PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Gasoline prices keep climbing — the national average is now up to $3.81 a gallon — up 30 cents in the past month and 50 cents since the start of the year.

The local average is $3.79.

The record high locally is $4.05, set in June of 2008 when George W. Bush was president.

So is President Obama to blame for the latest increases and what can he do about it?

KDKA Money Editor Jon Delano asked people in Market Square about the high gasoline prices and if they blame President Obama.

“No, absolutely not,” said Lauren Hunter of Bethel Park. “I think that this has been coming for quite some time and I think the blame goes way back.”

“Things were messed up before he got in office and I feel like we’re not even allowing him enough time to get things straightened out,” added Carlotta Dukes of North Braddock.

“I don’t think he has control over the prices,” said Frank Clements of Mt. Lebanon, “but I think he’s not doing the things he can be doing that would have the prices stabilize and go down in the future.”

That’s a common belief and KDKA Political Editor Jon Delano repeated it to the president on Monday.

Delano: “Fifty-four percent of Americans, according to a CBS/New York Times poll that will be released later today, say that you can do something about gasoline prices. Can you?”

President Obama: “Understandably, people are frustrated when gas prices are going up and there are things we can do, but they’re not going to provide results overnight.”

The president says his policies are working — but more long-term, than short-term.

“We’ve reduced our dependence on foreign oil by a million barrels. We are continuing to make progress on doubling fuel efficiency standards on cars. All that reduced consumption will reduce demand.”

He also wants to end taxpayer subsidies to oil companies making record profits off high prices and curb oil speculators.

“Let’s stop with the loose talk about war because a lot of what’s driving this is people’s concern and fear that there might be a major disruption of oil supplies in the Middle East oil markets.”

Some think like Peter Mastracci of the South Side.

“I really don’t think there is much the president can do about oil prices, Republican or Democrat,” he said. “I didn’t blame Bush, and I don’t blame Obama.”

While people may not blame Obama for gas prices any more than they blamed Bush four years ago when prices hit $4, it’s still a political problem — and he knows that.

That’s why the president will talk tough on oil companies – push his all-of-the-above energy strategy – and try to show that he understands how gas prices hurt family budgets.

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